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Murphysboro teachers' union announces initial step toward strike

Murphysboro teachers' union announces initial step toward strike

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MURPHYSBORO — Another teachers' union in Jackson County has taken the first steps toward a strike.

According to news releases from the Illinois Education Association, Murphysboro Education Association, which covers teachers in Murphysboro Community Unit School District No. 186, have filed their last, best offers with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. This gives the union the ability to call a strike 14 days after the offer has been posted.

The Carbondale Education Association, which represents teachers in Carbondale Elementary School District No. 95, announced a similar move last week.

A news release sent by the IEA Wednesday quotes MEA lead negotiator Catlin Langellier, saying members are wanting the district to honor the financial concessions teachers have made in recent, lean years.

“The district is now standing on financially solid ground, and we’re asking them to make good on their promise to make us whole again,” she said in the release.

In its public posting of the offer, the MEA said that the district finished the 2018-2019 fiscal year with a nearly $3.5 million surplus and will receive approximately $534,000 in additional state funding this year.

However, because of an increase in health care out-of-pocket costs for things like office visits and prescription costs, the union noted that the salary increases proposed are negated.

“They are simply saying they don’t have the money,” Langellier said in a phone interview Friday about what board negotiators said of their requests.

Representatives from District 186 did not return requests for comment.

District 186 includes Carruthers Elementary School, Murphysboro Middle School, Murphysboro High School and the General John A. Logan Attendance Center.

The CEA filed its last best offer last week and negotiated as recently as Monday without coming to an agreement. Chief among the CEA’s proposals are a 4% pay increase annually for each of the three contract years. This would give those who have plateaued on the district’s pay scale a 4% raise, with those who qualify for a 3% step increase also getting an added 4%.

In a news release sent after an executive meeting Tuesday, District 95 said it had offered 4% raises. However, according to union members, this was calculated using the 3% step, which nearly one-third of union members would not qualify for, leaving them with just a 1% raise.

The board's news release also said the union and the board disagree about "suggested contractual language that would not require teachers to supervise students on the playground, in spite of their claim that student safety is a key issue."

However, the last best offer from the union did not characterize the request that way. It said "administrator(s) and supervisory aides will monitor the playground to provide consistent supervision and expectations."

The union's news release said its rationale for this proposal was because "consistent supervisory staff on the playground are key for setting expectations and addressing behavior concerns. Consistency will lead to decreased negative behaviors on the playground. Currently, we have different supervisors on the playground every day."

The board sent a statement following a Wednesday news story covering CEA negotiations. In this, the board argued that the union’s rationale “ignores the fact that teachers are not the same as supervisory aides and the one or two administrators per building are not the same as teachers. Certified teachers hold a license by the state of Illinois making them the most qualified employees to provide playground supervision.”

District 95 includes Parrish, Thomas and Lewis elementary schools, as well as Carbondale Middle School.

The Carbondale Educational Support Professional Association, which formed last year and represents 111 district staff members who are not teachers, had submitted their last, best offer alongside the CEA last week. Working on their first contract, members were frustrated particularly with the district’s proposals for sick leave and personal time. Also at issue for the union, which consists of classroom aides, cooks, secretaries, maintenance workers, couriers, birth-to-three educators, behavior specialists and paraprofessionals, was health care costs.

However, CESPA reached a tentative agreement with the District 95 Board Thursday during its 15th bargaining session, according to a news release from the board. The agreement precludes either party from releasing details until it is finalized, but in the release, District 95 School Board President John Major said that it was a “fair and equitable” deal that both sides are happy with.

CESPA President Tricia Lueker said in a statement that she hopes members vote to ratify the agreement as soon as possible. She said there is no set date for the vote yet, but it will likely be next week.

isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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